[Rappresentazione grafica di una mascherata]Young Venetians used to meet up in groups known as "stocking" groups. The various groups were distinguishable by the multicolored embroidered stockings that their members wore. The groups were given fanciful names (Cortesi, Ortolani, Sempiterni), which had to be accepted by the group members by way of a statute. The aim of these groups was to create and prepare the entertainment and shows during the carnival. Between 1487 and 1565 there were 23 different groups throughout Venice.

Here’s a list of some of the most famous masquerades:

  • On the occasion of the great battle of the Christian forces at Lepanto, a procession of floats was prepared on carnival Sunday. "The Faith" towered over the other floats with its foot on a chained dragon, followed by the "Theological Virtues" inspiring the generals of the armada, the impending "Victory" over the foe, and finally, "Death" with scythe in hand, signifying that in victory, it too had triumphed.

  • In 1589 the theologist Paul Sarpi, together with a few friends, set about throwing discredit on a certain charlatan, Marco Bragadino di Cipro, who at the time wandered the city claiming he could make gold. The young men, dressed as "Mammon" god of riches, went through the city on gondolas, with alembics, melting-pots and bellows pretending to "make gold".

  • In 1664, on the occasion of a wedding at Casa Cornaro in San Polo’s Square, a magnificent masquerade was organized in which many young local people participated. The splendid procession went across Venice and stopped off at two of the most famous convents in the city – San Lorenzo and San Zaccaria where nuns of noble birth lived.

  • On 27th February 1679, there was a masquerade on horseback in which the Duke of Mantova took part, with a wealth of Indians, Negroes, Turks and Tartars. Mounted on their fine steeds, they fought against six monsters who were blocking their path. Having killed them, the dancing began.

  • 1696 – In the carnival of that year, there was a strange masquerade with a carriage pulled by 6 horses preceded by sumptuously-dressed lackeys.

  • 1706 – A masquerade with 24 young Venetians dressed as Persians and with a multitude of wind instruments went across Venice stopping off to play in the squares and in the parlous of the main convents (San Zaccaria and S. Lorenzo)

  • 15th February 1755 – A masquerade of soldiers in white and turquoise uniforms, who to the sound of drums and with flags unfurled, marched through the city. There was another procession of 8 people one of whom represented the devil with a black velvet costume, horns on his head and some rope in his hand which was used for tying the hands of the other 7 who represented the 7 cardinal sins each holding a sign showing which sin they represented.